Two charged over record cocaine seizure off Irish coast

Two men have been charged in connection with the seizure of almost 160 million euro (£139 million) of cocaine on a bulk cargo ship off the Irish coast.

The two suspects are due to appear in court in Co Waterford on Friday.

A total of 2,253kg of cocaine was found on the MV Matthew after members of the Army Ranger Wing captured the vessel off the Co Cork coast by abseiling from a helicopter earlier this week.

The ship had been under surveillance since Friday when a multi-agency operation responded to intelligence of a major international drug smuggling bid.

Irish police have said the seizure was the largest in the history of the state.

Drugs seizure on cargo ship
MV Matthew was escorted into Cobh in Cork by the Irish Navy after a ‘significant quantity’ of suspected drugs were found on board (Irish Defence Forces/PA)

Police believe the cocaine, captured onboard the cargo ship after the dramatic military operation at sea, was destined for distribution beyond Ireland, potentially into the UK and continental Europe.

A fishing trawler that grounded off the coast of Co Wexford late on Sunday was also being monitored as part of the operation, amid suspicions it was en route to rendezvous with the cargo ship.

The vessel remains stuck on a sandbank out at sea, with poor conditions preventing the authorities from boarding and searching it.

Five other men have been arrested as part of the operation.

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